Blooming Prairies

With a recent addition of a new lithium battery and miscellaneous rewiring, I thought it’d be a good idea to take the camper out for a couple of nights and seeing if all my mucking around actually works. The weather this week was perfect for camping and there are a few state parks in southern Minnesota in which I’d never camped, so I had a good excuse to test out my new stuff and visit a couple of parks.

One of the parks I hit was Great River Bluffs State Park, located on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi in southern Minnesota. I happened to be there when parts of the restored prairie were in bloom. A bit of good luck, and one that got me thinking.

We all appreciate the beauty of an Alpine meadow or western desert in bloom. Though it can be just as beautiful, a prairie in bloom doesn’t seem to be as appreciated. That’s unfortunate.

Blooming Prairie, Great River Bluffs State Park
Blooming Prairie, Great River Bluffs State Park

Very little native prairie exists anymore – nearly all was plowed under during a time when nature was perceived to have value only when it could be harnessed, tamed, or exploited. Fortunately for us, a few progressive pioneers recognized the necessity to preserve bits of land for the enjoyment of future generations.

Our generation, for example.

I’m reminded of a few years ago when we were touring a part of the Everglades. Next to us was a middle-aged woman and her elderly father. I gathered from their conversations that they were farmers from the southern Great plains – perhaps Oklahoma or Texas. As they (or we) looked out over the vast grasslands of the Everglades, he asked what to him was an obvious question – Why isn’t any of this being plowed?

My recollection of their conversation:

“All that land going to waste. You’d think someone could grow something here.”

“But Dad – this is a National Park, you can’t farm here.”

“Rice? I bet you could grow rice here.”

I’d have thought like that years ago too. To me, a prairie in bloom was a patch of weeds, better plowed and planted than left to waste.

In any case, the view from the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi at Great River Bluffs State Park is nice. Broad river valley, flooded river bottoms, bright green this time of year.

Very nice.

The new battery seems to work OK, though I still need to do a bit of tweaking with both the electrical and the electronics. I tried to make my touchscreen monitor double as a clock when idle – but because it doesn’t have a light sensor it’s either too dim during the day or too bright at night. I’m also having issues trying to use Bluetooth to communicate between the various devices. My thought was that I want everything to work even if there is no WiFi hotspot in the camper, but I’m finding out that the Bluetooth stack on Raspberry Pi’s is pretty buggy, and the various python libraries aren’t much help.

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